CS81 Spring 2006
Midterm Project
Due Friday, March 3 by Noon


For the midterm project you will explore the IAC model described in the paper The Playground Experiment: Task-Independent Development of a Curious Robot by Oudeyer, Kaplan, Hafner, and Whyte. You will design an experiment, run the experiment, analyze the results, and write a paper to explain what you found. You are strongly encouraged to work with a partner on this project. I will also allow teams of three (if the project is substantial enough).

I will provide you with some prototype code that implements the basic framework of the IAC model. However, there are many issues that will need to be resolved that are not spelled out in the model's description. For example:

You may design an experiment that uses one of the actual robots available in the lab (Aibos, Pioneer, or Khepera). You are also welcome to conduct the experiment entirely in simulation. Whether you use an actual robot or a simulated robot, you will need to carefully consider the developmental environment. What actions and sensory information should be available to the robot? One option is to try to reproduce the original experiment as closely as possible.

In addition, you are expected to conduct a limited literature review. Find and read at least two articles that are related to your experiment. A good source of related work is the bibliography of the original paper.

Be ready to discuss your ideas for the project during next week's class.

Format of the paper

Your paper should include the following:

Your grade will not be based on whether or not your experiment succeeds. Negative results are also useful. Your grade will be based solely on the thoroughness and readability of the paper. Do not turn in any programs. Bring your completed paper to my office.

Citing related work

The purpose of writing a research paper is to communicate your discoveries to others. It is important to explicitly acknowledge how your work relates to other work. This can be done either with a direct quotation from another source or by summarizing the key points from another source. You should avoid paraphrasing another source as this can border on plagiarism. When summarizing another source, explain the essential information in your own words.

When using the exact language from another source, you must use quotation marks. Or if you are using a passage that is more than four lines long, indent and single space the passage without quotation marks. For a direct quotation, provide a reference with a page number. When summarizing another source, you should also provide a reference, but a page number is not necessary.